Habagat 2012-A A +A
By Rox Peña
Thursday, August 9, 2012
THE amount of rainfall dumped by the southwest monsoon this week is unprecedented, says former PAGASA man and now GMA-7’s weatherman Nathaniel Cruz. The rainfall volume exceeded that of Typhoon Ondoy.
However, the destruction caused by Ondoy was more severe because the heavy rains fell within a short period of time in contrast to Habagat’s slow but steady downpour.
Since there was no storm signal, many people went on with their usual routine. As a result, many were stranded. A former classmate was trapped at the North Luzon Expressway for almost 13 hours. He was heading back to Manila but Balintawak was impassable. He turned back but was caught by the traffic snarl at Valenzuela. Our driver who was heading back to Pampanga from the NAIA was stranded for 12 hours at the NLEx. Worse, there was no food and water within the vicinity.
Flooding in Metro Manila was so widespread that even shopping malls were not spared. Radio reports said that floodwater entered the lower levels of both SM North EDSA and Trinoma malls. Some people who fled from the floods took refuge in these malls. Unfortunately, the floodwater followed them. Hospitals too were not spared. I heard reports from the radio that flooding at the UST Hospital reached the second floor. The Delos Santos Hospital in Quezon City and UERM in Sta. Mesa were likewise affected by floods.
Big floods are identified by the typhoons that caused them. The most recent are the floods of Ondoy, Pedring and Pepeng. The flooding this week was not caused by a typhoon so how should it be named? Habagat 2012 ?
In many ways, Habagat 2012 is worse than Ondoy. During typhoons, classes are normally suspended for a day or two. For this flood, classes were suspended for three to four days. During typhoons, floods reach a peak and then subside. This time, the water level’s rise and fall is unpredictable. The rains come and go. A valuable lesson learned is that disaster preparedness should not only be during typhoons but also for ordinary rains brought by Habagat.
In Mabalacat City, it’s sad that we have a casualty. A tribal leader in Barangay Marcos Village, Renato Fan, was swept by rampaging waters of Sacobia River near Gate 14 in Clark. The body was recovered several hours later in Concepcion, Tarlac.
What caused the massive flooding? Climate Change? Garbage clogging waterways? Deforestation? Possibly all of the above.
Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on August 10, 2012.